Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's nice...

This morning as I got close to work I was stopped by a crossing guard. There were several happy children hopping, skipping, and chattering to each other, and to their Moms. "How nice" I thought "that these mothers are walking their kids to school." There wasn't just one Mom present, there were many. As a matter of fact at that crosswalk and continuing down the street a couple of blocks I saw probably fifteen mothers with their children. It didn't seem as if it was a chore either. There were smiles on their faces and a bounce in their steps as they responded to the needs and conversation of the kids. They waved and nodded to other mothers, and to those cars passing by.

It made me happy, and it made me think; "Did I ever walk my kids to school?" and "If I did, would I have been joyful about it?" Another interesting thing about these mothers is that they were all Latino.

I have read many negative e-mails, posts, and heard many surly comments about the Latino people who "MAY" have crossed our borders illegally. Degrading remarks have been made about their cost to us as tax payers, especially filling our jails. I do believe that we need to fix the immigration flow across our borders, and yes there are some staggering costs to us as tax payers and this blog is not to bring up that conversation.

I just merely wanted to note that many of my clients (Insurance) are from the Hispanic culture, probably many have family members who are not "legal". Some grandmothers may have been in this country forever, and they are kind, good people. They are responsible: they have insurance, and they pay on time with cash every month. They are hard working, some of them have multiple jobs to support their families. Many of them are also frustrated with those from their culture and in their community who don't show the best examples. They are a loving people who want to be embraced and want to embrace us. Yes, we do need to correct the influx of those who illegally cross our borders. But, don't malign them on other counts, or at the very least don't paint them all with the same broad brush.

Those little kids walking, talking, and laughing with their mothers on the way to, and I venture to say, from school are bound to be good people. They are certainly getting the kind of start we all should emulate!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Thanksgiving Letter

One of the nicest gifts the Lord blessed me with is the ability to “count my blessings”. Even in the midst of a challenge I never get too discouraged because there are always so many gifts to be aware of. This is why I chose to write a letter of Thanksgiving for 2008.

The first stanza of an old Bing Crosby song keeps running through my mind….actually woke me up tonight which is the opposite of what the lyrics imply. In spite of that, it really is timely now in the nature of the nations problems.

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small,
I think of when I had none at all,
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.”


This has been a year with so many things to be thankful for. They were packed in around some trials and challenges. For those of you who didn’t know, Bud and I have filed for divorce. There was no anger or angst, as a matter of fact we are still pretty good friends and get together regularly with our family and even for an occasional night out together. I can call on him to change a light bulb, and I return the favor any way I can. We have spent 42 years “cleaving together” so we aren’t totally “uncleaving”. I am not making light of our vows, they were so important to both of us and we worked very hard before reaching this decision. As painful as it is, it is the right decision for us. Our kids understand and are supportive and loving to both of us.

One of our most blessed events in 2008 was the addition of Leah Caitlin Bliss Trosper to our family. She was born on October 15th at 6 pounds 3 ozs, 19 ½ inches long. Her parents, Marque and Sarah, could not be happier. They are learning what it means to be diapering and feeding at 4 am. She truly belongs to the Trosper family even though she came through the arms of a loving “birth” mother. I spent a week in American Fork, UT content to cuddle, smell, feed, change and LOVE this little bundle of joy.

Leah’s cousins Madyson and Hailey are so excited to meet her at Thanksgiving. They have really enjoyed shopping for her. Madyson (8) is looking for dress up clothes, dance gear, and dollies to help Leah follow in her interests. She is in six dance classes and is in a competition level in four styles of dance; hip hop, jazz, lyrical, and character dance. Managing to get her school work done even though she is at dance three nights a week is important to her as well as it is to her parents. Although Hailey (almost 11) is a beauty, she has brains as well. If she were to share her interests with Leah it might include politics. She ran for school President this year and she used the national political campaigns to help her plan her own campaign strategy. Luckily her dad finds her a willing listener when he discusses the political landscape and she really understands the balance of power better than most Americans. Besides dance and scholastics another thing Hailey excels at is the art of sarcasm….but then she has some world class teachers in her Uncle Scott and her Dad.

Jim and Sam are enjoying being “Aunt and Uncle” for the first time. They are so looking forward to visiting Utah at Thanksgiving and getting their hands on their little niece. Jim is grateful he will have the opportunity to be with family (his own AND extended) more now since he is working Monday through Friday after his career change to Avescend. He loves training his staff to give hospital patients and their visitors excellent guest services. He finds them more deserving than the “gamblers” he used to serve. Samantha is LOVING being a busy Mom as well as working at WINCO. Mostly she loves having Jimmy off when she and the girls are so they can enjoy family moments and build memories.

“Scooter got a Scooter” is what the Chino officers say about Scott being a new motorcycle cop. With the new position he also got a Monday – Thursday schedule and he loves the opportunity to live a more normal life with nights and weekends off. I get to see him more often when we are both at work in Chino too. He was honored with two Life Saving awards this year. How do you say in a paragraph what a proud moment that was for a Mom? Aside from his career Scott counts his new niece as one of his greatest blessings. He is pretty darn good at spoiling little girls so he will just continue more of the same.

Marque and Sarah don’t seem to be having much difficulty at all adjusting to parenthood. Abundant love helps new parents overcome any inadequacies. Sarah quickly left PMI to become a full time Mommy….and she revels in the change of occupation. Marque has to leave his girls to work, but fortunately is usually able to get away from PMI himself for Dr visits and other important events in little Leah’s life. What a lucky little girl she is!!! Leah was expected to be a little boy so there were a few changes to be made, but there was nothing but elation about our little angel. Marque and Sarah are firm believers that they can raise a child and still enjoy traveling. As a matter of fact it sharing it with Leah gives them even more reason to build those memories.

I am so fortunate to have such amazing children. Wow! There just aren’t words that convey the feelings of a pounding heart. Seeing the excitement and joy they share with each other in these happy moments, and the strength, courage, and support they give during the difficult times is inspiring. When I have asked them how they can be so strong and positive they tell me it is because they had good childhoods, parents who loved them, and they have their own lives now that are happy and fulfilling. Can any parent ask for more?

The Lord indeed blessed me with a grateful heart, but he also blessed me with three amazing sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, THREE perfect granddaughters, a tremendously supportive Mom, brothers and sisters who love me, an extended family who keep me in their prayers daily, friends who lend listening ears and soft shoulders, a world created to feed me physically and spiritually…..counting my blessings instead of sheep….and I fall asleep counting my blessings! Good night.

Gratefully,
Leslie Trosper

P.S.Hey, promise me you’ll have a blessed holiday season yourself, okay?!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Attitude--The value of a change in perspective!

Attitude is one of my favorite words. I love quotes about Attitude, my favorite being "Attitude is a little thing that can make a BIG difference." The one I have on my phone right now is "We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." A couple more "Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but, rather, a manner of traveling." "The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them."
I learned the art of changing my perspective, thus adjusting attitude, when I was in Jr. High. There was a new student who swooped into the school and in a short time became the most popular student. She was an "army brat" who was moved many times in her childhood. She had a choice: hate it, gripe about it, mope around or "go with the flow". She not only learned to make the best of it, she reveled in the challenge of moving into a new space and making new friends. I still remember that girls name even though I was only 11 or 12 years old, Diane Cook. She taught me a valuable lesson. I didn't become the most popular girl in the school, but I did learn how taking a different perspective could change the view.
As a newlywed I remember Bud and I being in a church group of other young marrieds. It was like being back in High School with the popular group at the center in their own little "click". All of the rest of us seemed to be in the outer circle jealous of that group. Me included. All of the sudden I did a perspective click.....when I did I had quite a different view. #1 That little group had no intention of excluding anyone. They were unaware that the rest of us were standing around them panting to be a part of their party. They were just having fun, innocent of any malice. #2 I looked to the right of me and to the left of me and found a large group of people who were visualizing being part of a group, failing to notice all the others in the same situation. So I turned to greet those people and gradually found some great friends, and eventually we became a very cohesive group.
Another story I remember about attitudes was one that Corrie ten Boom told in her book THE HIDING PLACE. Corrie and her sister were Christians who were put into a concentration camp by the Germans after it was discovered they hid many of their Jewish brothers and sisters. While imprisoned they had the opportunity to share the love of God with many inmates. Corrie was surprised when her sister Betsy thanked the Lord for the lice infestation. Betsy's view was that the lice kept the guards from coming into their room, thereby giving them freedom they wouldn't otherwise have. Now that takes a real attitude change to be grateful for lice!
I have worked for 25 years in the insurance industry. Steve Bjelland was Marque"s and Jim's scoutmaster and he called me after his wife suggested me as a possible employee. Scotty had just started first grade so he wondered if I was interested in doing a little part time work. I had always done childcare in my home so I could be a "stay at home" mom. It wasn't that I didn't work because at times I cared for as many as 14 children at a time, with 8 in diapers. I was worried about working taking away from my devotion to my first career as a wife and mother. After some bartering and negotiating....mostly Steve just gave me my way, I started work. I could get away for any "room mother" duties, field trips, or any other needs for my kids, and work was a side light. This is the way in continued for many years. I just worked enough to provide the "extras" for my kids like soccer, the nicer shoes, name brand jeans, McDonalds once in awhile.....you know the "extras". Bud and I had an agreement that I was a "wifey". We kind of both deceived ourselves into thinking that "my" money didn't count. When we moved to Virginia I worked full-time for the first time. I was Relief Society President so I really worked TWO full-time jobs. I didn't have to though, it was a choice.
When Bud was laid off and we moved back to California he got a job that would require a lot of travel, so when I got my job with a District Manager in Temecula my main concern was freedom to take alot of time off rather than the money it paid. Later as our financial needs became greater it became terribly obvious that the money I earned was no longer expendable, but necessary. Then Bud had to have surgery and was off work for about six months, and I was pretty much the "breadwinner". Now, I didn't lay blame at anyone's feet, and I recognized we had a partnership and it was "my turn", but I didn't have to like it, and I didn't!
Anyone who knows me knows me to be an optimistic person. I usually wake up ready to face the world with a song and a smile, but I was finding my first thoughts waking up were "I hate my job. I hate the stupid drive to work (55 miles one way). I hate my life." Not much had really changed. I had the same job, the same drive, and the same life I had been living for several years...the only difference is that now it wasn't a choice.....I HAD to work. It was bad. I grumbled all the way to work. When I got to work automatic gear kicked in, and I doubt that anyone noticed the problem. As a matter of fact it would get better, but on my way home I grumbled again. The next morning I repeated the same meloncholy mantra. It was really getting bad. I was aware nothing was going to change. The only way to make a change in the situation was to change myself....time for a major attitude adjustment!
My boss was reading A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE and the title made me contemplate my purpose. He gave me a copy for Christmas that year. I have to admit that sometimes I don't read a whole book....sometimes I just carry it around and gain insight through close connection to it. Silly huh? Sometimes it works. I did read the beginning chapters just not the whole book. But I pondered my purpose. I decided that I was given a gift of empathy. It doesn't take much for me to understand the trials people go through. People want to be understood and cared about. Sometimes we don't feel like we are much more than numbers--social security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, loan numbers, policy numbers---we don't have identity. I decided my purpose was to give my clients (all those I come in contact with) an identity. The person handing me a salad from the McDonalds window is something more than "an arm attached to my food". They are a real live person with a story to tell. Each person who comes into my office has blessings and trials they have a need to share. Sometimes they don't need anything more than a business person to smile at them, or remember their name.
So my attitude adjustment came as my realization that I too have A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. My purpose was not to go to my job every day to bring home money. (That is a very good side purpose but not one that set well with me) I want each person who walks in the office door, or who is on the other end of the phone to feel better when they leave, or hang up. That is my focus.
What a change it made to my life to look at my job experience with this new perspective. Truly I wake up each morning anxious to get to work. I even enjoy the drive because I love to see the shocked looks on people's faces when I grin at them, leave space for them to change lanes, or give them a big wave when they give me space. (Have you noticed people don't do that anymore?)
No, I'm not a Pollyanna I still get down on occasion, but all it takes is a little tweak in my attitude, or a little change in my perspective to get back in the happy zone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is Voting Day!

I had an appointment at 8:00 am before I went to work so I had to get to my polling place at 7:00 A.M. There was already a line forming....isn't it awesome to see so many people anxious to vote????
Of course there was the decision to be made for our Presidential leaders, but as Jimmy and I have been discussing lately that position doesn't hold as much power as people tend to give it. Our country was designed specifically to avoid having one person with all the power. Four year terms allow us to remove someone from an office before he has the opportunity to usurp too much power. We have three branches of government: The Executive, or the President and Vice President; The Judicial which is the Supreme Court; and the Legislative or Congress. We have the tendency to credit or blame the President for what is happening at a particular time. So now do we think that whoever we put in that Executive office is going to FIX Wall Street? The gas prices? End the war? It isn't going to happen that way because of those other branches that "Balance the power".
I'm so grateful for the way our forefathers set up our government. It works! Slowly sometimes....and we've certainly done our best to mess it up....but still it functions. I'm grateful for the opportunity to vote and for the patriotism my parents firmly placed in my heart. I still cry when I sing the national anthem, and I pause to think about each sentence in the Pledge of Allegiance. So, in spite of the fact that whoever becomes President will not be able to immediately "fix" us, we do have a right, responsibility, and honor to walk into our polling place to cast our vote.

Another issue that has given me an opportunity to really think is Proposition 8. I believe the Lord meant for marriage to be between a man and woman. He created Adam and then as his companion, helpmeet, partner he created Eve. He even created her from Adam's side. I wonder if He is surprised that we would ever question this coupling. As easy as THAT choice is to me I find that sometimes the very people who make that choice (Christians) forget that He also taught us not to judge. The propaganda against Prop 8 make us sound like we are discriminating in the very disgusting nature that our African American, Japanese, Armenian, and Hispanic brothers have been judged. Sadly, some people do judge and discriminate. But that isn't the Lord's plan. Sometimes I worry that some find it difficult to stand on the middle ground.....you know where we understand that God wants us to live in families that include a mother and a father, but where we truly LOVE and do not judge our brothers and sisters who face the trials and challenges that homosexuality brings to their lives.

We have no concept, unless we've walked that road ourselves, what it feels like to be them. There is no way to know what it is God is asking of these good people. Do we ask them not to love who they choose to love? How do we do that, really, how do we do that? We look for love, live for love, cry when we don't have love, and then we ask them NOT to love? We can't do that, but unfortunately God does. But, God knows there is a way, some way they can overcome this trial, this challenge....even if it IS abstinence. We can't judge them for wanting to love who they want to love, but we do have to honor God's desire to leave the sanctity of MARRIAGE between a man and a woman. While we teach our kids about the Proclamation to the Family, we must also teach them about Christ's example to not cast the first stone, to not judge lest we be judged.

I had a childhood friend, a wonderful friend, who was raised in his Christian church that taught him to love, and also taught him, as mine does, that man should love only a woman. He struggled with his own feelings but tried to live "righteously". Good Christian people mocked him. They called him "fag" and other horrible names. They joked about him behind his back, and to his face. Is it any wonder that he turned to those who understood the pain? He continually TRIED to live the way he had been taught God wanted him to live. He married, had children, made the best of his feelings. But, there was the constant nagging from his head, and the constant taunting from those around him, even in his own congregation. The struggle was too much to bear and he left his marriage. Eventually he died from AIDS. He was the best kind of person kind, loving, patient, giving, receptive, always thinking of everyone else. Tell me........who do you think the Lord will judge more harshly....my friend? or those whose comments might have led him away from the life God wanted for him? Yes, I want marriage to remain as God intended, between a man and woman, but I beg us as Christians to not judge these people who already have a struggle.

Now, go VOTE!